The difference between failure and success when job hunting

Shona Owen published a post on Medium titled “Inspiration from a Joker” about her search for a job and her realization that failure is inevitable. I decided to expand on my initial response here.

View story at Medium.com

I’m in a similar position. I’ve been job-hunting for almost 5 months now and, reading Shona’s post, thought a little more about success and failure in the context of my search for work.

I have a very long list of companies that I have applied to. Many of those companies are terrific companies and anyone would be fortunate to be employed by them. I also have a somewhat shorter list of companies that invited me to interviews, and a fair amount of frustration and disappointment on the side.

Failure is inevitable

Failure is definitely part of the process, it almost seems to define it. It’s more likely that most of your applications will fail. If you measure success by being employed, failure is probably going to be all to familiar to you.

The real challenge is how you respond to this apparent failure. I saw “apparent failure” because, although the ultimate success of a job hunt is being employed, it isn’t the only category of success in this arduous process.

Success often goes unnoticed

Each new application you send, despite knowing that it will most likely not result in an offer, is a success. Why? Because it means you haven’t succumbed to the feeling that your efforts are in vain.

Every CV you send out is an act of defiance, a statement that it will take more than that additional “… we are moving forward with other candidates …” to shut you down.

Some days, writing a motivation to support yet another job application feels like trying to stand when your personal gravity field has increased tenfold. Getting that done and clicking “Send” is not another admission of defeat, it is another little success because you are still standing.

I started responding to particularly disappointing rejections with a private refusal to accept defeat (well, after first expressing appreciation to the company concerned for considering my application). I’d make a point of going back to the job listings I track and finding at least one or two relevant positions and sending my CV off.

Somehow, it seemed important to immediately continue my search after a rejection. It doesn’t make the rejection ok but taking another step forward means it is simply another milestone along the way.

Thinly veiled successes

So, on one hand job-hunting is a process characterised by repeated failure. On the other hand, it is, in itself, fueled by a series of small wins and successes. These somehow sustain you until you eventually receive an offer you can live with (or, better yet, that thrills you) or you abandon the idea of formal employment altogether and leap into the entrepreneurial jungle[1].

At times whether you perceive rejections as personal failures or successes can make a profound difference to whether you get back up and take another step forward.

You can rarely change an adverse decision taken against you but you can always change your response to the decision. Make the choice that sustains you.

Featured image credit: David Marcu


  1. That is another dimension of success and failure altogether …  ↩
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Paul
Enthusiast, marketing strategist, writer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad. Allergic to stupid

2 Comments

  1. Something I’ve found when applying for jobs or pitching for projects is that each new application or pitch is a chance to refine my own narrative and often this refinement process can lead me to new appreciation of what I have been through.

    1. I definitely found that I became better at framing my work experience and personal narrative the more positions I interviewed for.

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